Huddle up! Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Seven Ways to Fix the Steelers NOW


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did everyone feel that earth-shattering, offense- altering move the Steelers made late Tuesday? In an effort to bolster their horrendous offensive (and it is offensive) line, they sent two low round draft picks to Steelers southwest, otherwise known as the Arizona Cardinals for tackle Levi Brown. I know, control your enthusiasm. Brown was selected fifth overall in the 2007 draft and missed most of last season with a torn triceps muscle. Says a lot that Arizona would basically give him up for a bag of chips and a beer, so forgive me if I don’t see this as a major shakeup. Interesting that the Steelers’ deal followed on the heals of their arch rival Baltimore Ravens  making a deal Monday night to acquire former first round pick T Eugene Monroe from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Didn’t know the Steelers were into playing ‘keeping up with the Jones-es’.

With a week to think and ponder and to quote Mike Tomlin “get better”, I thought about what the Steelers needed to do try and fix their ails right now. With one exception, I will try and lay off the blame game for a day.

 

1. Start being accountable

Right now the only guy who seems to be willing to be blunt and honest is QB Ben Roethlisberger. After losing to the Vikings, Ben said “we are the worst team in football.” If not for the Jacksonville Jaguars, they would be. What’s very troubling is that this team does not seem to hold themselves accountable for being 0-4. All Mike Tomlin feels is that the team “needs to get better” and that will solve all ills. Mike, your team has no running game, no offensive line, an aging defense that hasn’t forced a single turnover and can’t tackle, and yet all you think is that your team needs to “get better”? Wow, talk about clueless. And to hear Ryan Clark talk, you think this was a playoff team. This isn’t. And then Art Rooney comes out today and basically echoes Clark. Does anyone (besides Ben) have any clue? This is the worst Steeler team we have seen since 1968! It’s time for Tomlin to confess he’s not doing a good job, it’s time to hold Dick Lebeau’s defense accountable for their failures. Guys, get real here, you stink. Admit it!

Some may ask what admitting such a thing would accomplish. It’s easy to be honest about others, but not often about ourselves. Pittsburgh needs to admit they have problems. They need to admit their problems won’t go away by magically uttering “get better”. Admitting you have a problem hopefully puts you on a path to fix that problem.

 

2. Fire GM Kevin Colbert. NOW

The trade for Brown is a puzzling one. First, why would the Cardinals give a former first round pick up so cheap? Well, the honest answer is that Brown hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. He’s made seventy-five starts in his mostly mediocre  NFL career. What bothers me about this deal is that Brown is owed nearly eleven million dollars over the next two years. For a team that cries poverty every year, why on earth would they take this contract on? Maybe Arizona is taking part of it, but I doubt it. Year after year, we watch the parade of free agents leave for greener bucks, while the Steelers do nothing to re-sign them. I know Omar Khan is thought to be a salary cap wizard, but this trade for Brown is puzzling for such a cash strapped team. Khan needs to go as well.

Colbert meanwhile, has done an abysmal job of replacing departing stars and starters. His only bona fide  home run has been center Maurkice Pouncey, although Pouncey is proving to be a little injury prone (the DeCastro inflicted injury aside).  As far as GMs go, Colbert is useless. While I liked their 2013 draft, it’s not enough to save Colbert in my mind. Get rid of him NOW and hire a young GM with some vision and some savy. Think outside normal channels, look how it worked for the Boston Red Sox hiring Theo Epstein. Hire more scouts to mine small schools, the black colleges, the CFL, Arena Football, search far and wide for any player who can help this team.  Think outside the box a little!

 

3. Bench Guys

I don’t care who it is, but nothing puts pro athletes on notice as does benching either them or a teammate. With the acquisition of Levi Brown it looks like Mike Adams will be riding the pine for a while and rightfully so. I’d also bench Ryan Clark, nobody’s play has slipped quicker than his. Bench him and put rookie Shamarko Thomas in there. At 0-4 what do you have to lose?

And I wouldn’t stop there. If Tomlin really wants to make a statement, bench other guys for a game. Bench Woodley, bench Hood(please!) , hell even bench Timmons or Polamalu. It may sound crazy but nothing lights a fire under an athlete than does job (in) security. If these young guys see that even great ones like Polamalu could get benched, it may provide a spark. Give Al Woods, Thomas, Vince Williams, Chris Carter more time, give them starts; bring Alan Baxter off the practice squad and throw him in.

 

4. Cut someone

If benching won’t work, then the next best thing would be cutting someone. Again, I nominate my favorite two punching bags, DEs Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward.  Two more blown picks for Colbert which only enhances his ineptness as assessing talent. Cut one, cut both, who cares? Send Mike Adams packing as well, he’s proven to be another bust is a ever growing line of wasted high draft picks. Let Isaac Redman go as well, let Le’Veon Bell and Johnathan Dwyer have their go. Want to send a message, nothing does it like cutting a bust draft pick like Hood, Heyward or Adams. I mean Arizona just gave away a former top five pick in Brown to them for nothing, why is cutting the thirty second overall pick (Hood) out of the question?

 

5. Play the damn rookies!

You’re 0-4 why not? Has Markus Wheaton gone into the witness protection program? Wheaton flashed big play potential in the pre-season, yet he has been a non factor thus far. Play him!! As I said play Shamarko Thomas and Vince Williams more as well. Heck, de-activate Cotchery and bring Justin Brown off the practice squad and give him a taste. Play Derek Moye more, we all know Emmanuel Sanders is gone after this season, play Moye and Wheaton more.

 

6 Be a little dirty if you must

Thanks to the now departed James Harrison, the Steelers had a reputation for playing borderline dirty. Alright ‘borderline’ is being nice, but at least it gave the Steelers an edge. Yes I know it may result in penalties and fines, but let teams know that even if they beat the Steelers on the scoreboard, they’re going to get the crud beaten out of them physically. That may go for the offensive line as well: be maulers, be nasty. Get up in a facemask, bite someone, find your inner Conrad Dobler!

 

7. Find an identity on offense

I know Todd Haley was brought in to bring better balance to the offense. His short passing game was thought to be an asset to Roethlisberger, to keep him more upright and healthy. It hasn’t worked. If anything, they have seriously regressed on offense to the point where I wonder if Haley makes it through the season (he probably will). I know the O-line changed their blocking scheme as well, but it ain’t working. I say, go four or five wide and just go back to being a medium to deep passing team. Stretch the field, get TE Heath Miller working that seam in the defense. Things will open up for Bell and Dywer on the ground if they open things up, spread the defense out. Maybe even use Felix Jones in the wildcat. It’s clear that they are not a running football team. What strengths the offense has is in their QB and receivers. Play to that strength. What Todd Haley needs to be is adapt his scheme to his personnel, not the other way around. Look at the stats guys, the offense has regressed under Haley. If things keep on the way they are, he and Ben are going to come to a very ugly confrontation soon. Time for Haley to wake up and change things around on offense.

 

I know many of you will disagree or scoff at my solutions. What do you think fans? What moves can the Steelers make to change things around? I’d love to hear some good ideas.

Tags: Kevin Colbert Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Milliken Steeler

    Dude, the Steelers have some issues but you are way over the top.

    Bench Woodley? He has 3 of our 4 sacks in four games with no help pressure wise from the other side. He is on pace for 12 sacks which helps us especially now.

    I agree with playing Vince as he is a hitter and his upside is better than Kions who needs to play special teams and back up Vince. Vince hasn’t been helped by Timmons play at all. Missed tackles and all I don’t know what is going on with him versus his great season last year.

    Bench Cotch? All he is doing is moving the chains and scoring TD’s. He is playing like our second best WR right now. I’m not impressed with Sanders. He is struggling to get open against 2nd tier DB’s and I say cut into his time as he isnt going to be resigned for what he is going to want to be paid based on his performance so far. I agree giving Wheaton more time. If they try doubling AB, Wheaton will beat them deep, Sanders isn’t going to do that. Lowering Sanders snaps gives Moye more time and I want his height in there with Miller inside the red zone anyway.

    I like Shamarko and agree that he needs more time on the field like Jarvis is getting however, I would not discard Clark. I don’t think he is finished, he has just had a few rough games.

    Brown is not a bad signing as we need depth. We will cut him next year so that salary isn’t going to hold up. At least they are trying to get some help on the O line and not throwing in the towel. We did good on our replacement center so give this trade a chance.

    Bell showed promise and we need to sprinkle in Dwyer in relief. Change of pace with Jones is all we better do with him or he will get hurt like he always did in Dallas and why he was sent packing. He is to valuable as a returner on special teams also to lose at this point, PLEASE! PLEASE dont let Redman sniff the field again and get rid of him after this year. Cutting Dwyer for him was an absolute joke and making that decision while Redman was in the tub was puzzling to me. That decision seemed personal and not business to me.

    Why would you cut Hood when he has become our best lineman against the run? Lack of pressure and thats it? Cam Heyward is finally coming on and we get rid of him now too? Woods by the way has not looked good during the regular season and seems to be happy with just making the 53.

    When Spaeth come back we can get rid of a TE and bring up Justin Brown this year. The kid has the size and hands to contribute and I think he would have made the 53 if we didn’t have a ton of injuries to start the season.

    I would bring Baxter up and replace Worilds who has done nothing and see if he can get pressure when he gets to play.

    I don’t look at the 0-4 record. I look for improvement and the fact that the best record in our division is 2-2. I wouldn’t go overboard and toss the season being 2 games out.

    I guarantee we beat the Jets and get our first win after the bye. How we look in winning that game is how I will gage our improvement and potential.

    • scott sinclair

      We better beat the Jets. My wife is a Jets fan and we’re going to the game.

      I agree about Worilds.
      I like Velasco and I hope they keep him next year. he’s a nice value for backup center.
      I’m wondering then if they should sit Timmons for a game over Woodley (he and Cotch were just examples by the way) and play Wilson and Williams.

    • Thumper833

      I actually wonder if it would be better to keep Velasco as starter and use Pouncy at LG. Pretty good interior line if you ask me

  • bk

    1. Fire Colbert, give notice to LeBeau and Haley. They will not fire TOmlin so I am leaving it off the list.
    2. Trade Sanders and Cotch.. NE? SF? that way you can play the young guys.
    3. Play Thomas.
    4. Go to a 4-3… see if the current DL/LB crew can play that, they sure can’t play the 3-4.
    5. GO hurry-up on O a lot more, mix it up, (throw the ball on 2nd an 1 in the redzone)
    6. Cut the bubble screen from the playbook, everyone knows it is coming and has lost how many yards this season alone?
    7. Change secondary coverages.. have the DB’s jump a route or two… show deep on the outside and come up and press at the last second…

    • scott sinclair

      I love the 4-3 idea.
      Yeah, everyone knows the bubble screen is coming. Take it out of the game plan for a month or more

      • bk

        Where we don’t have a dominant NT anymore, it just makes sense with the guys we do have… McClendon and Hood as the tackles, Heyward and Kiesel at DE’s… Let Timmons be the playmaker I think he can be at MLB… Free up WOodley for a blitz and let Troy
        play more of a S than LB… what do they have to lose..but more games… even if it takes the rest of the year to get it down..

        • scott sinclair

          My 4-3 alignment was a front four of Woodley, Hood, MClendon and Jones. I know Jones and Woodley are undersized, but their speed can make up for it. A LB corps of Williams, Timmons, and Wilson and a back four of Taylor, Polamalu, Thomas and Allen. Totally agree that Timmons can be a play maker and a force in the middle.

          Problem is though they need to be more physical. They need to get dirty and nasty again and there is none of that on display. Losing James Harrison was huge in this department. Maybe Clark’s play has slipped because he can’t go for the major hit anymore. I’m not saying end a guy’s career, but let him know who owns the middle of the field. Teams have figured LeBeau’s blitzes out, but showing a 4-3 look and sticking to that might give an edge

  • Kimmy

    Markus Wheaton broke his finger in the Vikings game. He’s not going to be evaluated for a comeback until his stitches are removed.

  • Jimmy Stuart

    Scott, BK

    1. Start being accountable: I think they are, just
    not publicly. You can’t just come out and tell the world “we stink”. You got to
    hold up the appearance that you know what you’re doing.

    2. Fire GM Kevin Colbert. Not now, after the season, they can’t turn it around.

    3. Bench Guys, Mike Adams, Right Now, he can’t play left tackle for me every, move him to guard or Right Tackle.

    4. Cut someone, top candidates Hood and Heywood, But I like Bk’s idea, switch
    to the 4-3, these guy’s aren’t Stud enough to play the 3-4 DE/DT, but may be
    more effective in a 4-3. Plus that give’s us a better chance to put pressure on
    the QB without blitzing and taking people out of coverage.

    5. Play the damn rookies , Markus Wheaton needs tosee the field (I know he’s been hurt), definitely get them in the rotation.

    6. Be a little dirty if you must, We don’t have that edge, it left with Harrison. Clarke uses to come up and stick people (but he’s afread of being fined)

    7. Find an identity on offense- Hopefully we can run the ball better with Bell, but I like
    your ideas.

    • scott sinclair

      The problem I have is that other than Ben, publicly they seem to be in some state of delusion. As if all it will take is ‘getting better’ to cure their ills. But what does that mean? This defense has given up way too many points last couple of weeks, way too many. Nobody is addressing that. Nobody is addressing the lack of turnovers on defense. Just some acknowledgement of this would be refreshing rather than the vanilla answers.
      And I know Wheaton has the finger injury, but try to get him on the field, even as a distraction.
      As for Colbert, if they do it now and get someone in they have 12 games to evaluate what the team has and what they need, assess the cap situation and get the coaching staff on notice that there is a new guy in town and he has no loyalty to anyone. But I understand your reason why they wouldn’t do it now

      • Jimmy Stuart

        “As for Colbert, if they do it now and get someone in they have 12 games to evaluate what the team has and what they need, assess the cap situation and get the coaching staff on notice that there is a new guy in town and he has no loyalty to anyone.” ….I actually like that prospective.

  • scott sinclair

    I do want to make one addition….I did some looking into and it looks like Arizona picked up roughly 4-5 million of this contract and that the Steelers got Brown for the veteran minimum (about $800,000) and have him under contract for a year, so financially it isn’t the disaster I first commented on. However, look at the statement the Cardinals made about trading Brown and you’ll see why this may be a bad deal for the Steelers from a talent standpoint.

    • Dom DiTolla

      I actually posted on that this morning. I think they only acquired him as a one-year stop gap so they can cut him relatively easily after the season. It just shows how desperate this franchise is at the moment. The fact that the Cardinals paid close to $4 million just to get rid of him though is an entirely different issue which makes me uneasy.

      Also, I’m not sure if you ever read my “Extending Woodley is an enormous mistake post” from 2011, but I basically illustrated how the deal would financially hand-cuff the franchise as they went through, why it is stupid to sign pass-rushers of his caliber and age at such a replaceable to long-term deals, and why that money should have been allocated to signing other players at more important positions like offensive line. They could have inked Wallace and Lewis for what they spent on that tub ‘o lard.

      • scott sinclair

        I do remember some of that 2011 post, that’s what got me into reading NPC ,but I still think Wallace was leaving regardless.
        Yeah, when I saw Arizon’a statement about Brown and that they were paying 4 million for him to leave (which reminded me of the scene in ‘Moneyball’ between Billy Beane and David Justice) I just don’t know why they make this deal. Woodley owned Brown when they played in the Superbowl, and now Brown is older, slower and coming off of an injury which sidelined him for the year.

        They are so handcuffed by these deals it has set them back at least two years. Khan is supposed to be a cap guru, but I see none of that. How many times can they ask Ben to restructure his deal before he finally says no? Polamalu has refused time and again to re-do his deal which doesn’t help. I mean this is the group that gave Chris “Mr. holding penalty” Kemoatu a 4year $20 mil dollar deal a few years back! They just throw money to the wrong guys and more of Colbert’s picks have flopped than have succeeded. He and Khan need to go.